How to Put up Floating Shelves on Plasterboard Drywalls
Updated: Aug 14, 2019
Having thin plasterboard walls within your home can be particularly frustrating. This is due to the fact that they are incredibly thin and are not the strongest and easiest walls to work with! This may mean that attaching paintings, mirrors and shelves is out of the question for you... However, plasterboard walls are in fact usable, and with some knowhow can be used to attach a plethora of wall based decor and shelving!
What is a Floating Shelf?
A floating shelf is a type of shelf which is attached to a wall, and has no visible support brackets or fastenings. The effect of a floating shelf is incredibly stylish and minimal, and can also come in handy when saving space within a room, as no floor space is being taken up.
Floating shelves are usually attached to the wall with two or more retaining screws which attaches the internal bracket of the floating shelf to the wall. The shelf itself is usually then slid over the over the top of the supporting bracket, sandwiching it in place.
So What Will You Need?
• A Pencil
• A Tape Measure
• A Spirit Level
• Some Dry wall Anchors
• A Screwdriver
Everything listed will make the assembly process as easy and as safe as possible, so make sure you check out the latest pricing on the recommended products above!
Now let's get into the tutorial!
Testing Your Wall...
When working with drywalls in your home, it is essential that you check the behind the wall for any electrical cables or plumbing which may be behind it. This may initially sound like a daunting prospect, and like me initially you may have thought that it involves cutting a hole into your wall and taking a peak yourself! But fortunately for your wall, that is really not the case!
Thanks to a Stud Finder/ Electrical Detector, checking for wires and cables behind your drywall couldn't be easier. It is very important that you do this before drilling for your shelves to prevent any electrocutions or damage to your home!
After reading the instructions on how to use the device, simply hover the detector over the section of wall which you plan on placing your shelf on. The detector should flag to you if there are any live cables/ wires behind it. So make sure you adjust your shelving accordingly!
Positioning The Shelf
After testing your drywall for any electronically currents, it is now time to position the shelf where you want it on the wall. With a pencil in hand (or in a pocket) hold your chosen shelf on the area of the wall that you wish to place it, and also keep in mind the height of your shelf. It may be wise to think about what you plan on using your shelf for, and base the height of it around that. For example if you are placing items which you will be needing access too, it would be clever to place it in a way which means that you can easily reach the shelf!
After finding the appropriate position for your shelf, use your pencil to make a small mark of where the bottom left and right corner of your shelf is on the wall (don't make these marks too big, but just enough so that you can use them as reference).
After finding where you wish to place your shelf on your wall, it is important to find out how you are going to attach your particular shelving. Every shelf may be different, meaning that the process may differ from shel to shelf which can be a faff!
We found that this amazing Rustic Three Piece Shelving is the best for this as it already has pre drilled holes in the back of the shelving, meaning that its just a simple and stress free process of hooking it on to a screw! we would definitely recommend checking this shelving out for yourself!
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With this in mind, measure the space between the holes on the back of your shelf, and correlate this with the marks which you made on your wall.
Mark the wall with the pencil of where the holes of the shelf would appear on the wall. It may be useful to hold the shelf back up on the wall for a visual representation of where the screws in the wall need to be! We would also recommend using your tape measure to work out where the screws should be placed on the wall and mark with a pencil.
Take your time with this step, and make sure that everything is lined up and ready to be fastened! The saying goes 'Measure Twice, Drill once...'
Another step which we would highly recommend, is using a spirit level to check that the marks made on the wall are completely flat, and that you won't end up with a shelf that all of your ornaments would slide off of! If your markings are not level, readjust the markings to fix the problem, but try to remove old markings as you go along to avoid confusion!
Screwing the Anchors (The key to your 'Drywall Dilemma')
With plasterboard drywalls being incredibly thin and awkward to work with, dry wall anchors are a life saver! We now use these for any DIY projects that need doing to our drywalls, and we highly encourage using them as they really work! We also found that drywalls are mainly found within smaller rooms, and you may find it useful to check out our post on how to decorate a small room on a budget!
These drywall anchors are the key to all of your plasterboard problems! They create reinforced structure from which your screw can be drilled into with ease. This roughly simulates a brick wall, and is a very good and reliable drywall alternative.
There is no need to pre-drill the holes for anchors as they just screw in with ease. Using the pencil marks for the inner section of your shelving, line up a drywall screw with one of the marking making sure it is accurately placed, and square with the wall. Begin screwing it in until is it flush with the wall. Repeat this process for the one other interior marking.
Now that the drywall anchors have been screwed into place, it is time to place the screws (which are included within the shelving) into the anchors and screw them into place leaving roughly 5mm of screw protruding from the wall. This screw will be used to hold the shelving into place and slot into the hole in the back of the shelf. Repeat this process on both dry wall anchors!
If you are still unsure of how drywall anchors work, check out this short video:
After the screws are both secured in the wall, try placing the hole of the bracket in the back of the shelf over the protruding screws slot it in place. Do this for both side of the shelving until it is fully attached to the wall.
This is the first real test to see if all of your measurements have been accurate. If you are running into problems with alinement, try thinking logically and remeasuring your screws to make sure that they are lined up with the holes in your shelving, and adjust accordingly.
Hopefully all of your measurements were accurate, and the shelf fits on the wall nicely. If you find hat the shelf is not attached to the wall securely, and it wriggles when you hold it, we would advise taking the shelf of and tightening the screw a little more so that maybe 3mm are sticking out instead of 5mm for example. But really just play around with the shelving and adjust to your own desire, and what works the best within your home.
Congratulations... You've made it to the end of the tutorial. Just a few quick last checks to make sure that everything is perfect!
Hopefully everything has gone smoothly for you, and your shelves should look something like this! We would give the shelf one last check by using the spirit level and just making sure nothing will slide off the shelf. It's fine if the shelf isn't perfectly level, but the more level the better.
We must say that you shouldn't try to place anything over 5kg on the shelves just due to the fact that the drywall might give up on you, and it is better to just be safe, as I'm sure the last thing you want is a huge hole in your wall! But this being said, feel free to experiment around with placing plants or vases for example on the shelves, and just make it your own!